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Buffett's secretary, Giffords' husband among first lady's guests

January 24, 2012|By Kathleen Hennessey
  • Mark Kelly, an astronaut and the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, will be a guest of honor at President Obama's State of the Union address.
Mark Kelly, an astronaut and the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, will… (Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty…)

First Lady Michelle Obama will watch her husband’s State of the Union speech surrounded by some familiar names. On the list released Tuesday by the White House was astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of Apple founder Steve Jobs, and Warren Buffett’s secretary.

If Debbie Bosanek’s name is not well known, her tax bracket is. The assistant to the billionaire founder of Berkshire Hathaway, became a minor political figure after her boss declared that he shouldn’t be paying a smaller slice of his income in taxes than middle-class workers like his secretary. The so-called “Buffett rule” has become a symbol of tax inequity and is all but certain to come up as President Obama promises to work on tax reform in his remarks.

The other attendees also hint at key themes expected in the speech -- reviving American manufacturing, boosting renewable energy production, addressing student debt and retraining workers. They also nod to the states key to the president’s reelection -- more than half of the 21 guests are from swing states.

On the list are Alicia Boler-Davis, who oversees General Motors small car program in Detroit; Jackie Bray, a single mom in North Carolina, who found work after completing a training course; and Joan Milligan, a Florida homeowner who refinanced under a federal housing assistance program.  

Mike Krieger, co-founder of Instagram, is slated to attend, along with Bruce Cochrane, founder of a furniture manufacturer in North Carolina, and Mahala Greer, a Denver student.

Michelle Obama has also invited several military spouses to join her, along with Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett.

Kelly will be present for what is likely one of his wife’s last appearances in Congress before resigning. The Arizona Democrat announced this week that she wanted to focus on her recovery from a gunshot wound.

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